1 Recognition of the Genocide

1.1 Recognition, official texts

The national socialist Genocide of the Roma has always been an uncontested fact for the state authorities in Germany. However, the recognition of the genocide was given concrete expression by German authorities and documents only during the last decades. On the occasion of the foundation of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma (Zentralrat deutscher Sinti und Roma) in 1982 as a political representation of the Sinti and Roma in Germany and their reception by the former Chancellor Helmut Schmidt, the Chancellor stated the recognition of the Genocide of the Roma on the level of international law as “Völkermord aus Gründen der Rasse” [“Genocide for racial reasons”, non-official translation]. This statement by the German Chancellor was then followed by the recognition of the Genocide of the Roma by means of an official declaration of the German Government:

“Den Sinti und Roma ist durch die NS-Diktatur schweres Unrecht zugefügt worden. Sie wurden aus rassischen Gründen verfolgt. Diese Verbrechen haben den Tatbestand des Völkermords erfüllt.” [“The NS-Dictatorship inflicted grave injustice upon the Sinti and Roma. They were persecuted for racial reasons. These crimes have the characteristics of a genocide.”, non-official translation].

On 16th March 1997 at the opening of the first permanent exhibition dedicated to the Genocide of the Roma by the National Socialists at the Documentation and Cultural Centre of the Roma and Sinti in Heidelberg, the former President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Prof. Roman Herzog, stated:

“Der Völkermord an den Sinti und Roma ist aus dem gleichen Motiv des Rassenwahns, mit dem gleichen Vorsatz und mit dem gleichen Willen zur planmäßigen und endgültigen Vernichtung durchgeführt worden wie der an den Juden. Sie wurden im gesamten Einflussbereich der Nationalsozialisten systematisch und familienweise vom Kleinkind bis zum Greis ermordet.” [“The Genocide of the Roma was perpetrated for the same motive of race ideology, with the same intention und with the same goal of methodical and final extermination as the Genocide of the Jews. They were murdered systematically and in families from the toddler to the aged in the whole sphere of influence of the Nationalsocialists.”, non-official translation].

The denial of the Genocide of the Roma is prosecuted by a law provision (§130 par. 3 German Criminal Code) according to which public denial, acceptance or trivialization of Genocide committed under the National Socialist regime will be punished with imprisonment up to five years or by imposing a fine.

In 2011, on the 27th January Commemoration Day, Roma were represented for the first time.

In 2012, a memorial site for the Roma killed during the Second World War was built, which evolved from the cooperation between the German Federal Government, the Zentralrat der Deutschen Sinti und Roma, the Sinti Allianz Deutschland and the Jenischer Bund Berlin. In course of the establishment of this memorial, a document describing the persecution and treatment of the Sinti and Roma during the National Socialist regime was compiled and is now displayed on a panel next to the memorial and visible to visitors.

1.2 Data (camps locations, Remembrance places, measures etc.)

Belsen, Buchenwald, Dachau, Flossenbürg, Mittelbau-Dora, Neuengamme, Ravensbrück and Sachsenhausen) with several external sub-locations, are the places where Roma have been imprisoned, abused and killed. In these locations memorial sites have been set up, which treat the Genocide of the Roma as an integral part of their remembrance mission.

In 2012, a Memorial to the Sinti and Roma Murdered under the National Socialist Regime was erected in Berlin. It was designed by Dani Karavan and was officially opened on 24 October 2012 by German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the presence of President Joachim Gauck. It consists of a dark, circular pool of water at the centre of which there is a triangular stone. The triangular shape of the stone is in reference to the badges that had to be worn by concentration camp prisoners. The stone is retractable and a fresh flower is placed upon it daily. In bronze letters around the edge of the pool is the poem “Auschwitz” by Roma poet Santino Spinelli, although the monument commemorates all Roma and Sinti murdered during the Porajmos: “Gaunt face dead eyes cold lips quiet a broken heart out of breath without words no tears” Information boards surround the memorial and provide a chronology of the genocide of the Sinti and Roma. It is located at Simsonweg/Scheidemannstraße – between Brandenburg Gate and the Reichstag Building, 10557 Berlin. It is supervised by the Foundation Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.

Apart from the sites and exhibitions at the concentration camps there is an exhibition dedicated only to the persecution of Roma: the permanent exhibition at the Documentation and Cultural Centre of German Sinti and Roma ("Dokumentations- und Kulturzentrum Deutscher Sinti und Roma", see item 3) in Heidelberg, since 1997. Another exhibition at memorial site Mittelbau-Dora used to be only devoted to the Genocide of the Roma in June–September 2008.

Among a number of permanent exhibitions that include remembrance of the Genocide of the Roma, there are, for example, the exhibitions at the "Gedenkstätte Deutscher Widerstand" (since 1998), the temporary exhibition "Topographie des Terrors" (about the Olympic Games in 1936, July 1996) or the temporary Holocaust-exposition at the "Deutsches Historisches Museum" in Berlin (January 2001) and many more.

Many sites have now been established to commemorate the persecuted and murdered Sinti and Roma, among them the memorials at the former Buchenwald and Mauthhausen Concentration Camps, and the memorial for the murdered Sinti and Roma of Magdeburg, which stands close to Magdeburg Cathedral. Altogether, there are sites of remembrance, memorial tablets, names of streets and other signs indicating remembrance on the Genocide of the Roma in more than 100 German cities. A list of all of these is available at the ("Dokumentations- und Kulturzentrum Deutscher Sinti und Roma"). Some of the monuments are located in: Buchenwald (former concentration camp), Darmstadt (there are two monuments), Kiel, Cologne, Leipzig, Magdeburg, Stolberg (Aachen), Stuttgart, St. Pantaleon, Wiesbaden and Würzburg. Other memorial sites are located in: Asperg, Bad Hersfeld, Bad Rippoldsau, Bayreuth, Bergen-Belsen (former concentration camp), Berlin (there are two), Berlin-Marzahn, Bochum, Braunschweig, Bremen, Bremerhaven, Buchenwald (apart of the monument), Dortmund, Dreihausen (there are two), Düsseldorf (there are two), Essen, Flensburg, Frankfurt (there are three), Fulda, Geesthacht, Gevelberg, Greven (there are two), Hamburg (there are three), Hanau, Hannover (there are two), Heidelberg, Herbolzheim, Jena, Karlsruhe, Kassel, Kleinbachselten, Koblenz, Cologne (there are four, apar of the monument), Landau, Leipzig (apart of the monument), Leonberg, Ludwigshafen, Magdeburg (apart of the monument), Mannheim, Marburg, Merseburg, Meuselwitz (former camp), Mittelbau-Dora (former concentration camp), Mulfingen, Munich, Nueuengamme (former concentration camp), Norderstedt (former camp), Nürnberg, Oldenburg (there are two), Pirmasens, Ravensbrück (former concentration camp), Recklinghausen, Reutlingen, Sachsenhausen (former camp), Sindelfingen, Singen, Solingen, Stuttgart (apart of the monument),Trochtenfilgen, Tübingen, Uckermark, Ulm-Söflingen, Weil, Wiesbaden-Kostheim, Worms, Würzburg (apart of the monument), and Wuppertal (there are two). The website “Gedenkorte für Roma und Sinti” lists all the memorial sites.

Considered as “racially inferiors”, the “Zigeuner” (Gypsies) suffered from arbitrary internment, forced labour and mass killings. As early as 1933, German cities, without any federal order, started identifying gypsy families and imprisoning them in camps. In 1935, the Nuremberg laws formalised the persecution against Gypsies. In 1940, the Nazi regime launched the deportation of the Gypsies from the West towards Eastern Europe, who were later on exterminated. In the Reich, 80% of the Roma were exterminated.

After the war, Roma survivors did not get back neither their German nationality nor their properties. Until 1982, West Germany refused to recognise the racial motive of the deportation and extermination of the Roma.

1.3 Specialised institution, commission, research centre etc., dealing with this issue

In 1990 the Dokumentations- und Kulturzentrum Deutscher Sinti und Roma was founded in the city of Heidelberg, Germany. This Centre is engaged in research and documentation of the culture and in particular the Genocide of the Roma under the National Socialist regime and therefore has organized several exhibitions on this topic. The Documentation and Cultural Centre furthermore cooperates closely with other national and international memorial sites. The Centre is financially supported by the Land of Baden-Württemberg as well as by the Federal Government of Germany. The exhibition assesses the Holocaust of the Sinti and Roma, the only permanent exhibition of its kind in the world, which makes the Centre an important museum of contemporary history and a place of historical memory.

Head: Romani Rose
Bremenneckgasse 2
D-69117 Heidelberg
Telephone: (+49) (0) 6221 981101
Fax: (+49) (0) 6221 981190

Besides the permanent exhibition in Heidelberg, the Dokumentations- und Kulturzentrum Deutscher Sinti und Roma has also developed an exposition, which since 2001 is shown in the former concentration camp of Auschwitz. Similar to the permanent exhibition in Heidelberg, there is also a portable version, which has been presented in several major cities as New York, Warsaw and Stockholm since 2006.

Amongst the activities of the Dokumentations- und Kulturzentrum Deutscher Sinti und Roma there are also the organization of visits to memorial sites for Holocaust survivors and Roma youth, as for example to Auschwitz, Buchenwald and Sachsenhausen. Additionally, the Dokumentations- und Kulturzentrum Deutscher Sinti und Roma organizes public events and presentations dealing with the consequences and effects of the Genocide on the culture of the Roma in Europe, as well as presentations on measures against right-wing extremism, racism and antiziganism, or topics like “human rights“ and “minority politics“.

1.4 Official initiatives (campaigns, actions, projects, commemoration days, museums)

In 1995 the “Zentralrat Deutscher Sinti und Roma” achieved the recognition of the 70,000 German Roma as a national minority by the Federal Government of Germany. In consequence, their language Romanes (or Romani), which is spoken by the German Roma, is officially protected as a minority language since 1997.

The German Bundestag (Parliament) annually commemorates since 1996 all victims of the Holocaust, on 27th January, the annual Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust in Germany, in a special commemorative hour. On that day, all schools are invited to hold special lessons or organize events in remembrance of the Holocaust.

Furthermore, the German Bundesrat (upper house of the German Parliament, representing the Länder - counties) annually remembers the Genocide of the Roma in a commemorative speech during its last session in December. This commemoration takes place on the occasion of the yearly anniversary of the so-called “Auschwitz-Erlass” (Auschwitz-decree) by Himmler on 16 December 1942, which determined the deportation of about 23 000 Roma from 11 European countries to the concentration camp Auschwitz-Birkenau, where almost all of them have been executed.

3rd March is historically acknowledged as the commemoration day for the murdered Roma and Sinti, corresponding to the day of their first deportation to the Auschwitz camp in 1943. Yet, no official ceremony is organized.

In the eastern Berlin district of Friedrichshain, a street was renamed ‘Ede and Unku,’ which was the name of a 1931 book about the true story of a friendship between a German worker’s son and a Sinti girl in pre-Nazi Germany. A gymnasium in Berlin was given the name of the boxer Johann Trollmann, a Sinti who competed for Germany’s light-heavyweight title in 1933. Even though he won on points, the Nazis deemed his fighting style ‘un-German’ and used this as a reason to deny him the title. Trollmann later died in a concentration camp.

Roma and Sinti’s history is recounted in the Lebendiges Museum Online (LEMO). The Dokumentations- und Kulturzentrum – Deutscher Sinti und Roma informs on the Genocide of the Roma, and also provides a chronology of the genocide.

2 Teaching about the Genocide of the Roma

2.1 Inclusion of the topic in the school curriculum

The 2005 report provides information on the implementation of Holocaust in the school curricula in the 16 Länder. The report has been drawn up on the basis of a questionnaire answered by the Länder referring to the issues: implementation of the topics of Nationalsocialism and Holocaust in the school curricula of the Länder, implementation in teacher training and preparation of the 10th anniversary of the Remembrance Day at schools for the victims of the Holocaust (i.e. 27th of January 2006).

The teaching of the Holocaust includes remembrance of all the victims of the National Socialists’ regime. Special reference is made to persecution and Genocide of the Roma in the curricula of the "Länder" (counties) of Baden-Württemberg (secondary school: "Gymnasium"), Hamburg (secondary school: "Gymnasium", "Hauptschule" and "Realschule"), Hessen, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (lower secondary school and "Gymnasium", "Hauptschule" and "Realschule") and Rheinland-Pfalz (lower and upper secondary school: "Gymnasium", "Hauptschule", "Realschule" and "Regionale Schule"). As far as teacher training is concerned, the Genocide of the Roma in particular is dealt with in Baden-Württemberg. Since the curricula of the "Länder" are implemented via textbooks, it can be assumed that the description of the Genocide of the Roma can be found in the textbooks within the topic of Holocaust.

2.2 Inclusion of the topic in the school textbooks

The Dokumentations- und Kulturzentrum Deutscher Sinti und Roma and the Zentralrat has published a variety of documentation (books, CD-ROMs, DVDs) on the history of Roma that can be found on their website. Their comprehensive catalogue to the permanent exhibition in Auschwitz, “The National Socialists’ Genocide on Sinti and Roma represents an important book of reference on this issue.

2.3 Training of teachers and education professionals

The Education Department of the Dokumentations- und Kulturzentrum Sinit und Roma, which was established in January 2001, basically focuses on gathering information on state and private education services, designing seminars for teachers and preparing teaching materials dealing with the history of the persecution of the Roma and Sinti minority during the National Socialist era and with civil rights activities in the Federal Republic of Germany. The department also analyses standard schoolbooks and makes recommendations.

The pedagogical website “Lernen aus der Geschichte” (Learning from history) is a portal that provides free educational materials and method proposals for teachers. It provides a catalog of relevant websites, bibliography and references.

2.4 Particular activities undertaken at the level of education institutions

Contact people for the topics of Holocaust and National-socialism can be found in the Ministries of Education of each "Länder”.

2.5 Remembrance day

3 Official contacts and resource persons

3.1 Responsible person in the Ministry of Education

Contact people for the topics of Holocaust and National-socialism can be found in the Ministries of Education of each "Land".

3.2 Resource persons - list of experts and historians

Prof. em. Dr. Franz Hamburger
Managing Director of the Pedagogical Institute of the Johannes Gutenberg University, Mainz
Melanie Spitta
Filmmaker and activist (1946-2005). She was a pioneer and central figure of the Sinti and Roma civil rights movement in Germany. Her films and texts were about the Nazi genocide of Roma and Sinti (Porajmos), the denied compensation after 1945, and about racism and sexism in the Federal Republic.
Chairman of the Dokumentations- and Kulturzentrum Deutscher Sinti und Roma
4 Initiatives of the civil society

4.1 Relevant projects having a real impact on the people and/or the wide public

The newspaper Bayerischer Rundfunk ( issued a report online.

Romani associations demand the institution of the 2nd August as the official Commemoration Day of the Genocide of the Roma.

Compensation: The International Organization for Migration (IOM) – whose headquarters are in Geneva -, in partnership with the Government of Germany, was one of the institutions in charge of paying compensations to Roma survivors of concentration camps. The Stiftung EVZ "Erinnerung, Verantwortung, Zukunft" (Foundation "Remembrance, Responsibility and Future") has funded various projects on forced labour during the Second World War, has prepared lectures on this subject and, furthermore, was responsible for the payment to survivors of forced labour camps.

NGO project: The German Roma Center Göttingen e.V. participates in the project « School of Remembrance – Producing knowledge about the Roma genocide and how to prevent anti-Gypsyism Partners » with Serbian NGOs, the Women’s Space from Niš and the Forum for Applied History from Belgrade. The Serbian government has recently acknowledged the importance of raising awareness about the extermination of the Jews during Nazi occupation and in early 2012 organized the first temporary exhibition on the Holocaust in Serbia 1941-1944. The history of the Roma genocide in Serbia during the Second World War, however, is still insufficiently studied and widely unknown. The two-year project ‘School of Remembrance’ is designed so that it collects information and produces knowledge at several levels. While one focus is on the historical research on the Roma genocide, its causes and mechanisms, another part of the project deals with antiGypsyism and systematic discrimination against the Roma today and asks how we can fight it. They issued a first study in December 2014 on "The suffering of the Roma in Serbia during the Holocaust". Other educational materials and general information on the Serbian Roma victims of the Genocide can be found on their website.

The Documentation Centre of German Sinti and Roma and the Bavarian and Federal Agency for Civic Education are currently working on aproject called "Between Discrimination and Emancipation: History and Culture of Sinti and Roma in Germany and Europe Partners". The project consists of putting together a collection of papers, soon to be published, on the past and present of Sinti and Roma for teachers, scholars, students, disseminators of civic and political education. While organisations of civic education are generally able to make regular changes to their websites, the editors of textbooks are very much slower. The proposed collection put together in this project is supposed not only to increase the availability of information to deal with the topic ‘Sinti and Roma’ in the classroom and elsewhere, but to show the life of Sinti and Roma from the perspective of the interaction with the majority society, based on historical evidence as well as through the recollections of members of the minority.

5 Point of view of the Roma community - including survivors' testimonies

Else Schmidt’s history was told by writer Michael Stewart in the book “Forgotten Genocides: Oblivion, Denial and Memory”, chapter 8 “The ‘Gypsy problem’. An invisible genocide”.

Florian Reinhard published his testimony “I Wanted to Go Back Home to East Prussia! The Survival of a German Sinto”.

The story of Amalie Reinhardt who was deported to Dachau is available on the pedagogical Dutch website